ApprovalMax – automate your approval process


Red Office are pleased to be an ApprovalMax Partner, and we have two team members ApprovalMax Certified.   Streamlining your processes is one thing we actively recommend and will help you to implement from our first introductory meeting with you. The ApprovalMax integration can help to eliminate all those manual approval requests.

How can ApprovalMax help me?

ApprovalMax removes the need for paper / email-based approvals with automated approval workflows for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable.  For us as Bookkeepers it means we do not need to send you an email to make you aware of items requiring your approval for accounts payable. Instead, the approval process is housed online within the Xero / ApprovalMax system. Management of workflow is improved for both yourself and us and means a payment will not be missed in case someone misses or loses an email.

Some Key features and capabilities include:

  • Approval automation for accounts payable and accounts receivable: multi-step and multi-role authorisation process with easy setup for bills, purchase orders and sales invoices to make sure they are fully authorised before payment.
  • Approval of Xero contacts: create new suppliers in ApprovalMax and use the multi-step automated workflow for their authorisation.
  • Unlimited user number, fully digital approval process and automated audit trail: any number of users can create, review, and approve Xero documents. No papers to sign, no chasing approvers. Detailed audit trail with all actions and comments.
  • On-the-go approvals and instant notifications: business approvers, budget holders, executives review and approve (or reject) purchase orders and bills via our mobile or web app; or by replying to an automated customisable notification they received.
  • Bill to purchase order matching and X-way matching: for an additional level of control, bills can be matched to purchase orders and also with proof of delivery documents.
  • Budget checking capability: approvers can view the relevant budgets right on the screen with the document awaiting approval
  • Auto-approvals: save approvers’ time by setting up auto-approval rules for smaller or regular expenses
  • Direct integration with Dext Prepare: all invoices and expenses captured by Dext Prepare can be routed straightaway through the multi-step and multi-role authorisation workflow run by ApprovalMax, and posted to Xero after authorisation.
  • Compatibility with all data capture tools: ApprovalMax works with all data capture tools that are pre-integrated with Xero.

Which clients does it work best for?

If you have specific approval requirements like a director sign-off, treasurer, team leader etc then ApprovalMax can streamline this workflow.  If you have a high number of AP and AR transactions and your inbox is out of control with requests for approval, then investigate ApprovalMax.  If this is a function you would like to automate and save more time on, then please speak to your Red Office bookkeeper as we can recommend an integration for your business.

How easy is the setup

The setup is easy and straightforward with your Red Office bookkeeper doing the hard work for you by managing this process and integration into Xero. Leave it to us and we’ll get it sorted.


Would you like to reduce the number of emails and streamline your accounts payable process? Then let’s chat to see if we can implement ApprovalMax for you! Speak to your Red Office bookkeeper to see if this is right for you.

Our Hub Concept Explained

Hub Concept

We’ve been talking about our ‘hub’ concept a lot over the past two years and as a bookkeeping business with almost 20 employees, it’s a concept not a lot of other bookkeeping businesses can offer.

Bookkeeping is a relentless business with each new month opening another set of checklists and items to dot the i’s and cross the t’s for our clients. As such, the volume of clients and nature of the work we undertake is often quite large and involved. We are not just your standard bookkeeping and transactional accounts management, but also consultancy and high-level accounts management if you require it.

How did the idea form?

Our ability to grow as a business was stunted due to Louise having a 15-1 staff ratio and all our bottlenecks occurred with her time availability.  Recruiting and onboarding new staff & clients were challenging and Louise herself knew she was doing a very average job of managing all the hats she was wearing. Louise attended a 2-day Zac De Silva strategic leadership workshop and from this came a plan. After consultation with the team, a decision was made to create a growth pathway. This provided our internal team an opportunity to step into an introductory leadership role and see if our Seniors liked coming off the tools and moving into a leadership role. Thus, creating the Hub Co-Ordinator (HC).

Our HCs manage the daily workflow planning for their team and their hub clients. They are constantly checking deadlines, accuracy of work, holiday planning, onboarding of clients, new staff, and more. They are the ‘go-to’ person for their team. The HC role has provided the opportunity for leaders to emerge and for those that have wanted to trial the role to decide if a move into leadership is right for them. Providing the opportunity for our internal team to develop into a leadership role vs recruiting leaders has been a slower road to implementing this new look team, however, we are confident this is now reaching momentum and is the right format for our business.

Advantages to our clients

When a client calls the office, they want to know they can reach the person primarily responsible for their account. Our onboarding process involves an introduction to a primary account manager or bookkeeper – this is the day-to-day contact person. Then we’re able to offer a backup contact which is usually another person in that hub, as well as the hub coordinator.  This process covers any staff absences or leave and ensures our clients know their work doesn’t drop because someone is away. It’s one of our cogs that keeps things moving.

There is always going to be some movement between teams. Sometimes the scope of work changes or clients leave, or someone in the team can provide a niche skillset that means some reshuffling is required. This doesn’t happen often, but we’re set up to manage any changes quickly and easily with minimal stress on the rest of the team and the client.

Most recently we created a payroll specialist hub, headed up by our in-house payroll specialist – Sarah.  Sarah now has 2 other team members working with her, concentrating specifically on onboarding those clients wanting payroll management. Sarah’s hub will onboard new clients, streamline their systems and processes, and will then hand over the clients to a long-term Account Manager while providing review and oversight in the background and cover in staff absence.

Teamwork is everything to us, not just a trend. As anyone managing a team knows, it’s always a work in progress. The wellbeing of our staff is crucial and when the team is cohesive and working well, it’s conveyed in the quality of our work. Receiving client testimonials that confirm what we wanted to achieve is so uplifting for all of us.

The future for Red Office

Our new look team structure is providing us the opportunity to keep growing our staff numbers and our hubs. Those wanting to be in a team leader position can put themselves forward and we encourage continual professional development and education. HCs attend external leadership training across their first 6 months in their new role and our long-term strategy is to provide the opportunity for a promotion to a Team Leader 12-24months into their role once we have developed their teams to 6 staff. Our Team Leader role will be a full leadership role with overall responsibility for all KPI’s for their team from recruiting, performance management, client onboarding, audits etc. Team Leaders or HCs will have a business within our business and the opportunity to take their leadership career to the next level.  We’re pleased that we are able to offer growth and career opportunities to our team and this aspect remains in our annual goal planning.

3 areas to help with Cashflow


Cashflow is one of the prime causes of angst among those who own or run a business.  Whether you have a start-up business or are already established, there may be times when you will experience a cashflow crunch. 

One of our Senior Bookkeepers has provided her top 3 areas to focus on that can help with improving cashflow.


1.Sales invoices

Send invoices out promptly. For invoices due on the 20th that are unpaid, an Outstanding Invoices statement can be sent as a reminder. You can prefix the subject line with “Reminder / or Overdue” (as appropriate). If the payment has not arrived by say the 25th, send an email. Make sure the subject line has ‘Overdue invoice/s’ and request an expected payment date. This request creates ‘Upflow’ within an organisation, and the Customer or Accounts Team will need to reply with an expected payment date. If, by the 28th funds are still not received, a phone call should be made to request an expected payment date. Customer Statements should be sent as soon as possible past month-end. For some businesses, it may be a new thing to start chasing customers for payments. Red Office can help with this. Feel free to send us a message to enquire.

2.Purchases (bills)

There is a function in Xero to set planned payment dates separately to the bill due date. These planned payment dates give a snapshot view of what is owing and when. For main suppliers, negotiate extended payment terms. Most are willing to do so. Here’s an example of how this looks: 

Step by step, the cashflow becomes clear – as to whether it is positive or negative, and by leaning on Customers to pay on time, and by talking to Suppliers to ask for extended payment terms, will optimize the situation.

By clicking onto one of the planned payment dates, it drills down and provides a list of bills to be paid and to whom. A business owner can change the planned payment dates easily to re-jig the cashflow etc.

3.The obligatory taxes: PAYE, GST, Income Tax.

The IRD has an installment arrangement available inside its portal, that is very easy to use.  For PAYE, GST, and Income Tax – there are penalties applied if these get missed, causing unnecessary angst and expenditure if not managed.

By spreading the cost over 12-18 months, a business can firstly avoid any penalties, though they must pay interest, all of which is set out in the installment plan at the time of application. IRD provides a response on the spot – Successful or Declined so there is no waiting. 

If you can spend a few hours on your cashflow review and plan, it will set you up for Christmas and hopefully on the other side sales will increase again. We recommend you don’t leave your cashflow calculations until it’s too late. Do it now! If you need assistance with this please let us know. We are happy to help but must clarify that we cannot provide business advice as the business owner must make their own decisions based on the information provided.

If you would like to speak to one of our team further on this, please get in touch with your main bookkeeper or accounts manager to make a time to discuss.

Our Top 5 Payroll Tips


Payroll is one of those complex processes that involve a lot more than paying staff.  When you have this process managed efficiently it’s another business function you don’t need to worry about.

Coming into the holiday period, we asked our in-house Payroll Specialist, Sarah Chaillet, for her top tips for those managing payroll and what you need to know coming up to a long break.

1. Start planning early – 6 weeks out.

We know this can be hard but adding this item to your calendar for the same time each year helps reduce your stress and allows you time to manage staff holidays as well as your own. Planning cover for those staff who will be on leave and ensuring everyone has a fair break is important at this time of year.

2. Provide 14 days notice

Ensure you have provided the minimum 14 days notice to all staff, advising them clearly when the shut down periods will be. Having open communication, advising your team in person and by email ensures everyone is clear on where they stand.

3. Review all leave balances

Review all leave balances and advise anyone if you find discrepancies as soon as possible. Forecast leave up to and including the last day of paid time off as leave will continue to accrue.

4. Communicate leave balances

Let those know who will not have enough entitlement or leave in advance to cover that shut down period and plan accordingly. Leave without Pay is usually the next option.

5. Leave payment dates as usual

Process all runs over the shutdown period in advance, but leave the payment dates as they would normally fall ensuring continuity of wages to the staff.


If you would like help with your payroll, we use a variety of payroll software including iPayroll, Smartly, Pay Hero, and Xero Payroll. Our team manage payrolls for businesses with staff from 2 to over 100+ employees and remain payroll certified and up to date on the latest legislation. Speak to your bookkeeper or one of our team to discuss your payroll requirements.

The Benefits of using Xero

Xero benefits

Since 2006, Xero has been a market disrupter in the best of ways. Red Office has been using Xero since its launch and is a proud Xero Gold partner finding a number of benefits in this cloud accounting system. Our team are Xero advisor certified and Xero payroll certified. It’s important to us we keep up to date with our certifications and as such, we have a requirement that everyone must remain certified during their employment with us. We’re impressed with the way Xero is constantly evolving and updating its product offering, which is why it is important as Bookkeepers that we keep up to date with our training. 

At Red Office, we aim to make life easier for our clients, which is a value of Xero’s that we align with. It’s an easy choice for us as a bookkeeping business, to use Xero for the sole ease of it. The shift to cloud computing has been instrumental for us to provide seamless remote professional bookkeeping services.  Work when and where you like. If you’re accounts system isn’t flexible then how can your business be?

The various integrations available from the app marketplace is overwhelming. We use over 30 connected apps in our practice for 100+ weekly bookkeeping clients. When we take on a new client, we spend 4-6weeks learning about their business. We then review the marketplace to find the right app to suit those businesses’ workflow requirements. This approach takes time as we are often using an app for just that client and ensure two of our team understand how to support that client using the app. This process is fully focused on what is best for the client vs applying a broad brush across all our clients.

From time to time we work closely with custom developers when we come across scenarios where we need the ability to integrate a system into Xero that isn’t available in the app marketplace. We are client-centric and everything stems from the client’s business workflow requirements.  Nowadays it is a rare occasion when we cannot package a Xero/app solution to improve a client’s business workflow.

Our Xero training and setup service was introduced to help business owners or their teams to be able to easily navigate the Xero accounting system. If you know how to use the system, where to find the tools you need, the better for you and for your bookkeeper or accountant.

If you’d like to book an online session to go over Xero please contact us to arrange this. We can accommodate taking you through your own Xero file and help you understand the areas you feel you need more support. Take a look at the options available here, or speak to one of our team if there is something you would like support with that we haven’t listed.

Xero has a huge range of guides and resources that are available for free. If you haven’t checked them out you can do so here.

If you would like to talk to us about using Xero, moving across to Xero or bookkeeping for your business, feel free to contact Louise in the first instance.

The importance of wellbeing in the workplace


We’ve had Mental Health Awareness Campaign Days, Weeks, and Months, not just in New Zealand but worldwide. The term ‘wellbeing’ is now a trending word. Looking after yourself is no longer confined to what you do at home but is a concept that has been transferred into the workplace.  Many businesses now offer mental health days, and various resources.

Red Office had the pleasure of on online mindfulness and resilience training session delivered by Rachel from Sparkhouse in September ‘21. She covered things such as the warning signs of stress overload, how the body reacts to stress, what our stress triggers were, and got us thinking about ways we could handle stressful situations. Taking ownership of our stress has helped us put boundaries and clarity in place for those triggers or stressors.

What does this mean in the workplace? It’s obvious when you or your team are stressed or overworked, the work suffers. Performance is down as well as moral. People don’t talk to each other and don’t enjoy being at work.

How has this improved the wellbeing of our team? Reading tips or books and watching online videos or webinars is one thing, but then putting these suggestions into practise is another.  Each team member is now aware of a few strategies they can practise to help minimise their stressors and are provided with ways to manage their stress. Knowing that it is ok to feel worried and stressed can in itself be helpful. It has also helped to know what may trigger a stress response in our team members and what we can do to help each other when we see this happening.  In our session with Rachel, she asked everyone how they usually react if things get stressful. Some people retreated into themselves, others took home the worry, some had poor sleep, others took their anger out on those around them or lost their appetite. When we see this happening we’re better enabled to reach out and offer support.

Flexible working has meant our team are able to manage their workload according to their schedule. The team can adjust work according to their personal lives and other commitments ensuring that their client requirements are met. They plan their workflow, and we ensure there is backup available to cover leave, sickness and other absences.  Having a plan or a process in place has been crucial to our success as a business.

There are huge benefits to creating a workplace culture where it’s okay to talk about mental health. Your employees are your greatest asset – you need them to feel confident, happy and engaged in their work, so that productivity is high. Opening up a dialogue can result in: 

  • More positive mental health (less depression, stress, burnout)
  • Better physical health
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Lower staff turnover
  • Improved work performance, motivation, commitment and energy
  • Less tension and conflict, more connectedness, kindness, tolerance and patience.

See more guidelines here for managers from the Mental Health Org.

I’ll leave you with some advice we received from Rachel: “You are not your thoughts. Only YOU add the meaning to your thoughts”.  

Are you ready to hire a Bookkeeper?

Bookkeeper for small business

As a business owner, you want to run a successful business and often times end up wearing too many hats. Outsourcing some of your admin functions can seem daunting as you want to ensure you’re getting the right person. Bookkeeping is still seen as a mysterious job. What do bookkeepers actually do? How are they different from an accountant? Do you need both?  The benefits in having a bookkeeper are outlined below.

  1. Free your time and get you on track

If you had more time to spend on other aspects of your business, what would you do? What could you achieve if you had an extra few hours each week?  Recently, we’ve had new clients come on board with accounts that required tidying up, going back a few years, and ensuring compliance with the IRD. This took our team a few days to complete while this task had been on our client’s mind for months. We removed the stress, and the accounts are up to date, the IRD is happy, and we can start to move forward.

We become your accounts department if you don’t have one. Often times a small business can’t afford to employ 1 -2 people to manage the accounts admin function. By hiring a bookkeeper you don’t need to pay an employee. Alternatively, we also work with your accounts manager if you have one. They become our main contact and we work closely together to ensure a seamless completion of your accounts.

  1. Accurate and transparent information

This has been a game-changer for all our clients, large or small. Having access to a set of accounts and financial reports that reflects how the business is performing is crucial. It’s not enough to simply read a report but to have that knowledge of what the data means, results in being able to make better business decisions.

Since a bookkeeper reviews the day-to-day transactions of your business, they can spot trends that you may not be aware of. As you make changes in other areas of your business, they can show you how these changes impact your financial health. They also can spot signs of danger well before you do and help you create a plan to reduce or eliminate them.

Custom Reports have been huge value to our clients. A client managing commercial properties came to us with some tidying up that needed to be done in their Xero accounts. We had to go back 12 months to get the correct information showing as we needed it to, but utilising P&L reporting and tracking, the client can now see data per building and per tenant and see how much the buildings are costing and returning. They can compare buildings and monitor each one – can see repairs, maintenance, any OPEX, and non-recoverable costs associated with the buildings, even legal and valuation costs and go back to a 12-month view if required. 

  1. We go beyond Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping as a profession has shifted in recent times. It’s no longer simple data entry. We offer other services such as business consulting, year-end projections, payroll setup and management, and various project work.  We know business owners need more support that you may not find in your accountant or elsewhere. Our certified bookkeepers can provide the advice you need to help you reach your goals.

How we work:

When you engage Red Office, we become part of your team. You’ll get a main bookkeeper / accounts manager and a back-up as well. This is all covered in our hourly rate or monthly fee – whichever structure works best.

We prefer to work in Xero but if you’re not, it’s not a deal breaker. Our bookkeeper then becomes a part of your team but is based in our office. You liaise with them over the phone and online. We’re cloud bookkeepers meaning we work with cloud software. This is important for us and yourselves, providing data security and efficiencies all around.

We’ll go through a thorough onboarding process and train and learn the ropes to make sure we know your business. We set up systems, processes and do what is required to make the transition seamless and stress-free.

Are you ready to learn how our Red Office Bookkeepers can help you? Visit our Bookkeeping page and get in touch with us to arrange a time to chat!

How we’re available during Lockdown

Plus the various Govt support options.

During Level 4 (and 3) lockdowns in NZ, our office is required to be closed and all staff to work remotely. Since we’ve done this before our team is set up to work remotely and be available to their clients as required. You can continue to contact us via email or our work mobile numbers as usual.  Please be advised that we will be working flexi-hours to accommodate everything else that comes with working from home, so our usual working hours may differ slightly to when we were in the office. Your bookkeeper / accounts manager will let you know of any major changes to their working.  Rest assured, we are well equipped to continue with your usual workflow and processes that we have in place. 

The NZ government have a range of financial support options available to business owners:

The Wage Subsidy: 

The Wage Subsidy August 2021 payments support employers to continue to pay employees and protect jobs for businesses affected by Alert Levels 3 and 4.

There are two COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021 payments. The previous two-week COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021, which opened on 20 August 2021, has closed.

Applications for the second COVID-19 Wage Subsidy August 2021, known as Wage Subsidy August 2021 #2, are open for two weeks between 9am 3 September 2021 and 11.59pm Thursday 16 September 2021.

You can apply for the wage subsidy through Work and Income.

Resurgence Support Payment:

The COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment helps to cover wages and fixed costs for businesses who have been directly affected when there is an increase to Alert Level 2 or higher for a week or more. 

To be eligible, your business must have experienced at least a 30% drop in revenue or a 30% decline in capital-raising ability over a 7-day period, due to an increase in Alert Levels.

  • You can receive $1,500 per business plus $400 per full-time employee (FTE), up to 50 FTE.
  • The maximum payment is $21,500.
  • If you’re a sole trader, you can receive a payment of up to $1,900.

Businesses anywhere in New Zealand can apply if they meet the eligibility criteria.

You can apply for both the COVID-19 Resurgence Support Payment and the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme if you meet all the eligible criteria.

You can apply for the RSP through the IRD.

Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme:

If you employ 50 or fewer staff, you may be able to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme. This is a one-off 5 year loan. You can borrow a maximum of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee within your business.

  • When applying for the loan, you need to be able to declare that your business is viable.
  • Your business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month, compared with the same month last year.
  • Applications are open until 31 December 2023 through myIR. If your business does not have a myIR account, you will need to create one to apply.

Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within 2 years. The interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of 5 years. 

You can apply for this loan through the IRD.

Tax Obligations:

If you are finding it hard to meet your tax obligations, IRD may be able to help. More information on this can be found here.

A full recap of the support available can be found on the Covid-19 website.

If you need to discuss your situation with us in confidence please do not hesitate to give us a call. We do endeavour to contact each of our clients at the beginning of each lockdown so we can help with a plan if need be. 

The value of a Bookkeeper

How can a Bookkeeper help you?

While software has replaced the paper format ledgers of the past, bookkeeping is still an essential task for modern business owners.

Having access to accurate, up-to-date financial records are vital for running a business of any size. They let you keep tabs on spending, help you plan and budget, avoid cash-flow issues and identify payment issues that could be costing you money. Red Office have a certified team of experienced bookkeepers that manage debtors, creditors, payroll and more on a frequent basis.

We simplify the bookkeeping process for you by using cloud accounting software (XERO and MYOB) to take on many tasks that needed to be done manually.

If you’re looking to scale your business, it might be worth looking at the functions you can outsource. Once of these is Bookkeeping. Red Office aim to make this simple and stress-free for you. You’ll get the confidence that your accounts are professionally managed and cared for, as we utilise our stringent processes and checks to ensure you remain compliant and up to date.

Having an outsourced Bookkeeper can be a cost-effective way of keeping your costs down as you don’t have to recruit someone to fulfill this role. Our bookkeepers become part of your team, remaining in communication with you and providing transparency and access to your accounts at all times.

Simply put, a bookkeeper clears the way for the accountant to work with your business strategically. This means: keeping track of daily transactions, sending and managing invoices, handling the accounts payable ledger, keeping an eye on cash flow, and preparing the books for the accountant.

We work with a number of clients in various industries which has allowed them to continue to run their business without the worry of looking after their accounts process.

At Red Office, we offer a tailored service to each client as no business operates the same. What works for someone else may not work for you. We like to automate our processes as much as possible and this means working in the cloud. We can provide recommendations on cloud software that could work with your existing systems and implement these for you. If it is training on a system you require we can also provide this. 

We have an 18-strong team of certified trained professionals. If you’d like to reclaim some time and be able to work in other areas of your business, call our main office number to have a confidential, no-obligation chat to see how we can help you.